“Where Is She From?”

Monday I went to taekwondo. Class itself was great, and I managed to do 100 sit-ups when I was supposed to. (I know, other martial artists can do this. I, however, hate sit-ups with a passion.)

However, for reasons I won’t go into—reasons that are not in any way my fault—I had to have words with “New” Master. He did some rather low-character things and I was displeased with him. At one point I flat out said to him, “I don’t believe you. You have lied to me twice.”

After giving me a rather shocked looked, he immediately apologized to me.

An older-than-me Korean man apologized to me.

And then he switched to Korean. I could understand everything he was saying, but I couldn’t tell if he’d switched to Korean to try and tug at my emotions or to try and confuse me.

I switched to Korean, too. “We don’t have jeong,” I said. I started to speak in the circular, Korean way. “Master in Korea…we had a lot of time. His family is my family. Lots of time… I always believed him. But you, right now? No.”

I may have been speaking Korean, but I was good old American me to the core.

He looked a bit shocked again, and I softened my approach. “If we drink together, we can become friends. But we have not had liquor together yet,” I said in Korean.

“New” Master smiled softly and said, still speaking Korean, “After the next test, Master, Amanda, [Special Forces Instructor], [Good Man], we will go drink.”

“OK, but… I still don’t know about [this matter]. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will tell you.”

Last night I went to taekwondo and dragged Good Man with me. While I was training (another 100 sit-ups done!), Good Man talked to “New” Master in Korean. This way there could be no “misunderstanding.” No excuses. No hemming and hawing.

I was called from class. We settled the matter, shook hands. “New” Master said to me, “Amanda, where are you from? I ask [Good Man].”

“My ancestors are from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, and Ukraine,” I said. “Why?”

“Because I thought maybe Italy.”

I was surprised. I don’t think I look very Italian. “Italy? Why?”

“Your temperament. When you are angry, you are very angry. But when you are happy, you are very happy. And when a disagreement is over, you forget about it.”

I laughed and thought, Lucky for you but only said, “I don’t tend to hold grudges.”

As Good Man and I went out to the car I said, “What was that? Did he mean that as a compliment? That I let things go after I’m happy again?”

“Well….you are a paying customer, so yes… it must be a compliment.”

Good Man is a terrible liar.

“Hey,” I said, “I don’t think he’ll do that to me again. Now he knows that I’ll stand up for myself and use you as Korean back-up! We make a good team.”

Good Man just grinned and nodded.